How to Effectively Manage Your Franchise’s Reputation

There are many moving parts to running a successful franchise. A piece of the puzzle which seemed irrelevant three to five years ago is now one of the biggest pieces that most business owners tend to forget about or worst, ignore: managing their reputation.

Could it be because franchisees don’t think a bad reputation will affect their business?

Well think again.

A few years ago when a customer had a bad experience at your franchise, they would tell their friends, family or sometimes call the business to let them know. Luckily then, the few number of people who would hear about the customer’s bad experience wouldn’t dramatically affect your business.

Now fast forward to a world where it only takes one or two negative reviews about your business to cripple your brand, your cliental, and most importantly your revenue. We are living in an age where a customer with a bad experience can leave a review about your franchise on sites such as Yelp, Urbanspoon, Google places, Tripadvisor or various other customer review sites for thousands of people to read instantly.

Believe it or not, customers are using these channels to make buying decisions. If you have six reviews and four are negative, do you think you will win new customers over? Maybe if you’re lucky; but the majority of the time you won’t.

Here are three simple tips to effectively manage the reputation of your franchise:

1) Search: Are you aware of what customers are saying about your franchise?

Do a simple Google search using your business name and address. The first two pages will tell you a lot about how your customers feel towards your business, and how new potential customers view your business. The majority of the time Google search results will show reviews from multiple social media channels. You can then go one step further and do individual searches on each of the platforms and review sites. Knowing is the first step, so if you know what’s being said by your customers, then you can learn how to handle it.

2) Handle it: Don’t cry over spill milk.

Once you know what your customers are saying, you can then take back control of your franchise’s reputation. First thing I recommend doing is to formulate a reputation strategy on how you will respond to each review. As a business owner you are passionate about your business and what people are saying might not be true. Take some time to think about how you want to respond to each review. Do not write simple generic responses, rather make sure your response addresses any issues made by the customer. When a franchise owner responds negatively to a customer’s review, this can cause even more damage. Once you determine how you will respond to each review, sign up, unlock or claim your business on the specific channels. This will give you the option to be able to respond to reviews from customers as the business. It’s very important to keep in mind what to write publicly and what to write privately. If you want to offer a complimentary offer or discount, two things to keep in mind:

  • Do not write it publicly because everyone will want a complimentary offer and you might get more negative reviews than you bargain for, so keep this in a private message.
  • Do not offer to send the customer a gift card or coupon, instead talk to them privately and get them to come back inside the business. This will give you the ultimate chance to make things right with that customer. If this is done correctly, the majority of the time the customer will update their review with the positive outcome.

3) Monitor: Ask satisfied customers to leave reviews

One would hope that for every one unsatisfied customer, there are at least two satisfied customers. Utilize these satisfied customers to spread the word about the positive features of your business is. In reality, unlike your unsatisfied customer who will go to extreme lengths to make sure the whole world wide web knows about their negative experience, a person whose had a positive encounter usually won’t go the extra mile to brag about your business. But there is no harm in asking them to do so. Engage with your pleasant customers and ask them to leave their praises on your social media platforms and review sites. By creating a personal dialogue with your cliental you are encouraging them to leave these types of reviews. Also be sure to create awareness so your customers know they can find you online and stay consistent in monitoring all the necessary platforms.

Each situation and franchise is unique and face their own challenges, however by following the steps above you should be able to jump start the process of managing the reputation of your franchise.

Andre Kay is CEO and chief marketing officer of Sociallybuzz, which provides social media management, campaigns and reputation management. The company is designed to help brands and businesses develop a firm foundation in social media and marketing while delivering the greatest number of options in how they define or reach their relevant audience and increase revenue.

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